Gulf News

Walking during the Covid-19 pandemic

- JON METHVEN ■ Jon Methven is the author of This Is Your Captain Speaking.

I’ m going for a walk. It’s a brisk morning. The sun is shining; it’s a beautiful winter day. I have my N95 mask. I have my bottle of hand sanitiser. I’m wearing a polyuretha­ne laminate jacket over a fluid-resistant surgical gown over a Kevlar vest, all of which is covered by a high-visibility orange safety parka. It will be a refreshing stroll.

I have my latex gloves inside breathable nylon mittens. Public restrooms off limits, I’m wearing a disposable absorbent undergarme­nt beneath thermal underwear, beneath flame-resistant Carhartt overhauls. I cannot feel my appendages. I’m very much looking forward to an exhilarati­ng excursion.

My knapsack is full. I’ve stowed backup masks should I encounter any massless pandemic denialists. I have BandAids, cotton balls and large-wound bandages, in case my run-in with the anti-maskers goes awry. I packed five gallons of backup sanitiser and a refill funnel. I have nine factory-sealed packages of antiseptic wipes. I packed face shields and oral swabs and disposable thermomete­rs in case I need to self-test. I have a rolling oxygen tank. This jaunt is just what I need to unwind.

I’ve set myself some ground rules. No eye contact with fellow pedestrian­s. No participat­ing in demonstrat­ions. No avoiding demonstrat­ions if my walk becomes entangled with any of dozens of protests. I’ve packed cardboard signs, one for every cause, both pro and con, should I have to camouflage myself into a particular picket line. It’s a lovely day for a saunter.

Some mask tips before I commence the walk. I overheard an expert prattle: Don’t touch your or your child’s mask while it is being worn. Don’t wear the mask under your chin with your nose and/or mouth exposed. Don’t leave your nose or mouth uncovered. Don’t remove the mask while around others in public. Don’t share your mask with family members or friends.

Layers of protection

Back to the walk. The weather is an unseasonab­ly festive 46 degrees. I applied SPF 70 sunscreen atop petroleum jelly, the liquids held in place by a full-body nylon wet suit. If you are outside for more than a few minutes at a time, you should be wearing sunscreen. In fact, up to 80 per cent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can still penetrate your skin, even on cloudy days. As my heart rate rises, the perspirati­on and swash will have no place to drip, remaining suspended, an extra layer of protection. Take that, Covid-19 and skin cancer. I’m wearing goggles underneath blackout sunglasses. I have a flashlight. The sun will be invisible to me on my much-needed walk.

I have a heart monitor. I have a pulse oximeter. I have a Fitbit on each wrist. You can use the Fitbit app to record your workouts, as well as your food intake. This tech also allows you to track how much water you are drinking throughout the day, placing an emphasis on the importance of diet and hydration as well.

Well I have 14 different apps tracking my whereabout­s via GPS. I have an umbrella I’ve jimmied into a widebrimme­d hat with a clothes hanger and duct tape. I have my cell phone should anyone phone with leads on popup vaccine stations. I have a tent and sleeping bag in case I have to spend the night in line. I have two laptops and pepper spray. I borrowed the neighbour kid’s wagon to haul a cooler of rations and a generator. I can work from the vaccine line for weeks.

I’m going now. I’ll put one foot in front of another. It will be a relaxing walk.

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